v10: This verse is kind of a summary statement. Solomon wants the reader to understand completely what his methods of operations were.
- Whatever my eyes desired: It’s through the eyes that we begin to covet or want. This goes back to Gen 3:6
- I did not keep from them, I did not withhold my heart: Solomon did not restrain himself. He didn’t “put on the brakes”. He pursued wisdom wholeheartedly and it didn’t satisfy him. He pursued pleasure and it too left him wanting more.
- My reward from all my labour: Possessions and wealth are not the same thing. A very wealthy person can live a very minimalistic life as far as possessions are concerned – enjoying wealth for the sake of wealth. Solomon pursued both wealth and possessions.
v11: All was vanity: Everything that Solomon had achieved with this pursuit of pleasure (all that the world had to offer) had left him feeling empty.
- Grasping for the wind: One cannot make friends with the wind. We cannot hold on to it – it always leaves our hand empty as it has nothing of substance to it. Solomon had achieved nothing in his pursuit. We need to be really careful about how we order our lives, in order that we can live lives that are pleasing to the L-rd G-d Almighty! Only when we are living a praiseworthy life before G-d will we experience true satisfaction.
- There was no profit: There was no advantage.
- Under the sun: In this world if we’re looking for something that is going to be advantageous in a lasting and eternal way we’re not going to find it. BUT we’re here for a purpose, and that purpose has eternal ramifications. That purpose is not for this world but for the world to come, the Kingdom.
v12: Madness and folly: Two words used to describe a pursuit of fleshly desires (self-gratification).
- What can the man do who succeeds the king?: Solomon has achieved everything so there is nothing else, no higher goal, for the person who succeeds him to achieve.
v13: Solomon is making an assessment. When wisdom is compared to folly (although neither bring satisfaction) wisdom trumps folly, in the same way that light is better than darkness.
v14: The wise man’s eyes are in his head: This is a kind of idiom. There is a temporal advantage to pursuing knowledge. It is superior to the pursuit of delighting our fleshly carnal natures. When we set our sights on simply trying to bring gratification into our lives it’s going to lead to darkness (an inability to perceive what is going on around us, it also leads us into deceit).
- The same event happens to them all: At the end of the day, all those who are wise (learned) and all those who are foolish (debauched) come to the same end.
v15: Death happens to everyone – the wise and the foolish. Wisdom and folly, because of death, reach the same final conclusion – both are vanity and do not satisfy.
v16: Solomon is doing another comparison. From an earthly perspective, neither the fool nor the wise man is going to be remembered any differently after his death.
- All that now is will be forgotten in the days to come: When we see a gravestone we do not know whether a foolish or wise person is buried there.